Social Media Platforms Open Doors For Artists

A recent New York Times article on an arts competition, Art Takes Times Square, raises interesting thoughts about being an artist in today’s digital world. The contest sponsored by, enlists creative types to upload their work (for a fee) for the opportunity to win some spectacular cash prizes as well as notoriety. Winners are determined through an online voting process culminating with a larger than life presentation of their artwork in New York City’s popular Times Square billboards.

The internet has spawned many money making businesses and it seems the pairing of technology with the art world is no different than any other industry. Computers have made networking and outreach more likely that what had previously been a close-knit, who-you-know inner circle process before.

Renée Phillips, owner and advocate of artists of Manhattan Arts International, recently asked on Facebook, “Is fame for artists now a competitive sport in which artists can beg for and get the most votes?”

I think the internet wields great opportunity, albeit a good and bad side to progress. Look at online banking. While ATM access to cash at every corner is a good thing, it’s not so good to be charged fees to get at your own dough. Email, as convenient as it is, has impacted the United States Post Office tremendously. Stamp sales are down and junk mail is a common annoyance no matter what spam filter is utilized.

Public libraries while embracing new technologies, have had to deal with accommodating all formats of publications from the traditional hard copies of books, music and movies to e-copies and digital formats of the same materials. They do this in order to cover the entire member population which includes people who don’t use computers to those who can’t live without them.

The NYT’s article mentions a favorite site I frequent, Behance, whose founder Scott Belsky, is also renowned for his national bestselling book, Making Ideas Happen. Social networking and its derivatives, online arts submission, is a hard nut to crack. While I agree with Phillips about the America Idol business model of democratic voting and how the general public may not necessarily be qualified for best art recognition, sites that feature art contests are quickly saturating the market.

It’s up to individuals to weigh the price of admission to each contest that presents itself. Researching the organization, and who the judges are, should be pertinent criteria for submissions. By no means are some prizes small potatoes. Take One Life, an international photography competition. What could be more inherent with a call for submissions, than to tell your story in your own words and photos.

Be informed and familiarize yourself with what the basis is for any call for submission. Arts are not unlike any other business. There is a profit to be made with quality art, whether it’s from commissioning an original to sponsoring a contest that potentially will draw an audience of millions.

Social media isn’t the enemy. It is a beast that can be tamed to suit the creator. My submissions didn’t win and I didn’t clobber people over the head with my artwork. That aspect may be the objectionable point Renée made. Would you do that with your work? Would you beg for votes to win recognition? How many times would you keep hitting send, before it felt like stalking? Has American Idol made a judge out of everyone?

How do you like your art? In a museum or online? Are digital technologies chopping away at an industry that prides itself on privilege?

Knockout Design Inspires Student

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. I love that saying and the sentiment it conveys because it forgives the act of duplication by acknowledging inspiration’s source. With that said, I’m borrowing the idea for this post from a fellow student, Alexander Gamble, who designed his blog based on course content, Visual Design, from Quinnipiac University’s MS in Interactive Media program.

It’s been two weeks into the summer course and theory related assignments got off to a great start. One of the first tasks was to select anything and discuss it in terms of form follows function. The objects selected were varied – recipes, cans, Sony NEX-5 camera, Nook Tablet, Mr. Coffee, corkscrews, Apple OS X, CamelBak®, Samsung Galaxy Phone, and my favorite, Post-it® notes, to name a few. This exercise was a lot of fun.

By not having ‘fancy’ design constraints in whatever object we chose to discuss, the exercise opened up my cobwebbed brain into thinking something as simple as note paper was in fact an innovated flight of fancy, simply by adding a little bit of tacky!

The site Pinterest is a content sharing service that allows members to “pin” images, videos and other objects to their pinboard. Pinterest and Behance are some of favorite sites I follow out of a love of design, be it illustration, painting, logo, photography, film, music, advertising, branding, animation and anything visual. I mention these resources for anyone, but particularly for students of design. Do you follow any that you’d care to share?

I found the work of German artist Hannes Beer, through my connection to Marie Kazalia who is a painter and arts advocate. A few qualities especially resonated with me in this graphic:

© Hannes Beer via 153/365 – The All Day Everyday Project


The message of the text is inspiring. To learn, for me, is like breathing. I like the vintage feeling of the texture used in the background combined with the silhouette. The two components, background and silhouette, make for a clever use of simplicity and play on negative space. The whimsical treatment of red items that appear to be feeding the brain, is a light hearted and fun way to convey movement in a static image.

Learning = awareness. Whether it is being informed of a new tax rate that effects my monthly budget or a new preset in image editing software, it doesn’t much matter what the subject is. What matters is staying open to information I can use in my life and learning why it is that stuff got that way – feel free to comment on the design above or on what learning means to you!